We in the Seattle area are experiencing a serious cold snap right now and people are wanting warm clothes. Nothing unusual about that, right? Everywhere in the northern hemisphere it’s winter and most of the U.S. is experiencing various degrees of cool/cold weather. Cold weather usually makes people just want some nice toasty sweaters and scarves and hats to get them though the frigid weather. So, you run yourself to the closest Target or Old Navy and…lo’ and behold, the sales floor is clogged with…no, you’ve got to be kidding…BATHING SUITS?!? What the…?!? Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Yeah, well, that’s what a friend of mine thought today as she went to buy some cozy clothes for herself and her two daughters. Out-of-place as this seems, there really is a method to this madness. Having a substantial background in retail, I can attest to the prevalence of “summer” clothes for sale in January. The minute the trees and lights are down, the second Eartha Kitt’s voice stops singing “Santa Baby”, the flimsy fabrics start flying. Shorts, bathing suits, sleeve-less tops and light cotton sweaters…they are all geared for a purpose: The Cruise Season.

I know, I know… who the heck goes on cruises right after the Holidays? Well, uh…actually…lots and lots of people. Not only did I do my time on the sales floor at Macy’s for years, but I later worked in the corporate headquarters for a major cruise line for five years. January and February are RED HOT for cruising. Think about it. It’s winter. It’s cold. You’re sick to death of the snow/ice/rain. And you have the After-Holidays Blues…big time. So what do you do? You go somewhere warm, of course! Where better than Mexico or the Caribbean or Hawaii to get that blood pumping, to soak and sun and pretend that you didn’t rack up a bunch of debt over the holidays? Just spend that Christmas money you got from your In-laws toward a cruise and/or cruise accessories, rack up a couple thousand more dollars on the plastic, just f’get about it and sail away! And don’t wait too long. There’ll be nothing left by March/April. Then, once the hurricane season starts, even though the cruises will be cheaper then, so are your chances for fun and sun slimmer. Nobody wants to be on a cruise to Aruba and have to detour or, worse yet stay adrift at sea, to avoid the storm.

Therefore, this initially seemingly out-of-whack clothing in your local department store makes sense if you think about it. So, it’s minus ten degrees Fahrenheit outside and your car is so frozen it won’t start. Don’t buy an $80.00 sweater to stay warm…buy a cruise and GO somewhere warm! Buy shorts and tops and brightly colored crap you wouldn’t be caught dead in at home. Buy BATHING SUITS! Who cares that you just gained over ten pounds eating Gra’ma’s sugar-encrusted Christmas Ham and Aunt Bettye’s sticky divinity fudge and half the cookies you “helped” your 6-year-old daughter make as she insisted they must be made “for Santa”. Cram yourself into that teensy bit of stretchy fabric and parade around the beaches of Jamaica and Puerto Vallarta and the Sun Deck of the Prince Machiavellian of the Seas around people you’ll never see again in your life! Whee! It’ll be FUN. You’ll buy trinkets for everyone that nobody really wants with money you don’t really have and get sunburned and advance your chances on getting skin cancer, to boot!

Well, we can’t all afford to do that, can we? Most of Americans have regular break-your-back-and-mind jobs that we are lucky to get two or three extra days off during the holidays. We can’t take that seven-to-ten-day cruise even with an inside (ie windowless) stateroom on the MS P.O.S. to Anywhere. Why the stores have to rub the promise of sun & fun in our faces in a time of doom and gloom is just downright cruel. It’s mean. It’s Eddie Murphy singing “I gots some iiiiice creeeeeeam and you can’t haaaaave it…”. It’s not playing fair. At least wait until March or April, huh? I mean, really. Let us imagine we’ve shed the weight gained during the holidays, let us pretend that we’ve put a dent in the debt we racked up, let us revel in the soft yarn of that cashmere cardigan we got from our Mother-In-Law…for just a little while.

Let us wait until March or April…we’ll ALL be thoroughly fed up with winter then, right?

But…Oh yeah…when does the hurricane season start? You’ll be sold out by March? *sigh*

Okay, sign me up. Put me on that Ship of Fools in a Chartreuse Spanx swimsuit. What the heck. I’ll never pay off my credit cards anyway, right?

© 2011 D. Kessler